Our Commitment to Reconciliation

At Norfolk General Hospital, we are deeply committed to the process of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. We recognize the historical and ongoing impact of systemic barriers and interpersonal racism experienced by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples in accessing healthcare.

We acknowledge the pain, loss, and dislocation caused by the residential school system and offer our sincere apologies for the harm inflicted upon individuals, families, communities, and nations.

Our commitment is to foster an inclusive and culturally safe environment for Indigenous patients and their families. We will strive to continuously improve access to cultural supports, address systemic barriers, and promote understanding and empathy.

We understand that health and well-being encompass the emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of an individual, and we will honour and respect the traditional worldviews, knowledge, and practices of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people for their health and wellness. We recognize the importance of traditional medicines and practices that have existed since time immemorial.

As health care organizations, we commit to increasing the cultural responsiveness and cultural safety training opportunities for all our staff.

We also commit to continuing to implement the Calls to Action outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, with a specific focus on those relevant to health and healthcare.

We understand that this is a journey towards justice, healing, and reconciliation, and we invite you to join us in creating an inclusive culture that respects and honours the experiences and contributions of all First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people.

The Statement of Commitment will be respected and honored for present and future generations.

Our Commitment to Reconciliation

Land Acknowledgement Statement:

In consultation with our partners from surrounding Indigenous communities, we have developed and are proud to share the following land statement:

We are privileged to provide care on lands that First Nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, Haudenosaunee, and Chonnonton, have called home for thousands of years and many continue to walk today.

We strive to stand with all indigenous people across Turtle Island, past, present, and future in promoting the wise stewardship of the land and providing equitable care for all its peoples. We will move forward in a spirit of peace, friendship and respect, towards reconciliation and collaboration.

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation:

September 30 is a day of significant importance in Canada, as it is recognized as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This day serves as an opportunity for individuals, communities, and organizations to come together and honour the experiences of residential school survivors, their families, and communities. It is a time for reflection, education, and dialogue, as we acknowledge the dark history of the residential school system and its impact on Indigenous peoples.

The residential school system in Canada had a profound impact on Indigenous peoples, leading to the assimilation of their culture and causing long-lasting intergenerational trauma. These schools were established with the goal of eradicating Indigenous culture and language, forcibly separating children from their families, and subjecting them to abusive and neglectful conditions. The effects of this system continue to be felt today, as Indigenous communities grapple with the trauma and seek healing and reconciliation.

Observing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation provides an opportunity for education, remembrance, and dialogue. It is crucial for all Canadians to acknowledge the truth of the past and work towards a better future by fostering understanding, empathy, and respect for Indigenous peoples and their rights. By engaging in conversations, learning about the history and experiences of Indigenous communities, and actively seeking out educational resources, we can contribute to the healing and reconciliation process.

As we reflect on the significance of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, it is vital to recognize its relevance to healthcare institutions. Our commitment as a healthcare provider is to continuously seek ways to improve access to cultural supports, address systemic barriers, and support our healthcare team in providing culturally safe, relevant, and supportive care to Indigenous patients and their families. We strive to ensure that our services are thoughtful, considerate, and compassionate, acknowledging the unique needs and experiences of Indigenous communities.

Background on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation:

Orange Shirt Day began in 2013, when Phyllis Webstad, from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation, first told her story of attending residential school, where the new orange shirt her grandmother had given her for school was stripped from her. Since that day, September 30 has been recognized across Canada as Orange Shirt Day, an opportunity to discuss in a meaningful way the effects of residential schools.

In 2021, the Government of Canada legislated September 30 as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It follows one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) recommendations, which calls for the government to work with Indigenous people to develop a day to “honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”

What you can do:

As a member of the WHGH family, we invite and encourage you to join us on this journey toward justice, healing, and reconciliation. There are several steps you can take to show your support:

1. Seek out opportunities for learning: Many organizations offer educational resources for healthcare workers to deepen their understanding of Indigenous history and experiences. Make use of these resources to expand your knowledge and perspective.

2. Wear an orange shirt or buy an Orange Shirt button: By wearing an orange shirt or displaying an Orange Shirt button, you can demonstrate your interest and support for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and its significance in the healing process.

3. Listen and learn: Actively listen to the experiences and stories of Indigenous individuals and communities. Engage in dialogue, ask questions, and strive to learn from their perspectives. These small but tangible steps can help build bridges towards reconciliation.

Support and resources:

We recognize that this may be a difficult time, and a time of reflection for Indigenous staff, patients and families. This is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on our relationship with Indigenous Peoples, to educate ourselves about Canada’s history, and take advantage of available educational resources. These are some resources to become better informed.

• Read the 2015 Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the Calls to Action.

• Learn about Indigenous knowledge, experiences, and perspectives by participating in the Indigenous Cultural Safety Collaborative Learning Series.

• Learn more about our country’s treatment of Indigenous people. The University of Alberta’s Faculty of Native Studies offers a free online course that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada.

If you or someone you know needs support, please reach out. Supports available include:

• The Hope for Wellness Help Line, which offers immediate help to all Indigenous peoples across Canada at 1-855-242-3310.
• A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line provides support for former students and those affected. Access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line at 1-866-925-4419.

Indigenous Patient Navigator Program:

We are proud to offer Indigenous Patient Navigator services to support Indigenous patients and their families through their healthcare journey. In partnership with De dwa da dehs nye>s, Indigenous Patient Navigators support our patients by:

• Providing support at clinic visits.
• Helping patients and families communicate with members of their healthcare team, like doctors and nurses.
• Helping patients connect with traditional Indigenous healers.
• Arranging language and cultural translation services.

You can learn more about the Indigenous Patient Navigator Program by visiting www.aboriginalhealthcentre.com/services/advocacy/, or by calling the De dwa da dehs nye’s Advocacy & Outreach Services at 905-544-4320 ext. 242.

Priority areas and initiatives to date:

Our organization is deeply committed to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and building stronger long-term relationships with our local Indigenous communities. We prioritize the right to health determination and embrace principles such as shared control, health equity, cultural inclusion, education, and a supportive environment. With this commitment in mind, we are actively developing a plan that reinforces our dedication to change.

Some of the future initiatives we are exploring include enhanced Indigenous health-related policies, such as traditional ceremonies and traditional healing practices. Other initiatives we are actively pursuing include:

• Strengthening Community Linkages: We are working towards building stronger connections with Indigenous service organizations in the community, fostering collaboration and mutual support to better serve the needs of the Indigenous population.

• Creating Indigenous-Friendly Spaces: Our vision includes the establishment of dedicated ceremonial spaces within our facility providing a welcoming environment for Indigenous cultural practices and traditions.

• Indigenous Representation: Ensuring Indigenous representation on the NGH Board of Directors and PFAC, so that Indigenous voices are heard and respected at the highest levels of decision-making.

• Indigenous Reconciliation Action Plan: We are actively developing a comprehensive Indigenous Reconciliation Action Plan. This plan will embody our dedication to meaningful reconciliation and actionable steps towards a more inclusive healthcare environment for Indigenous individuals.

As we continue to engage with our Indigenous partners, the directions of our initiatives will continue to evolve based on their valuable insights and knowledge.

Truth and Reconciliation:

NGH acknowledges harmful aspects of the hospital's history with Indigenous peoples as a first step on the path of reconciliation.

Awareness and staff education:

Indigenous cultural safety training

Our organization is dedicated to delivering the San'yas Cultural Safety online training to trustees, leaders, and frontline staff. Additionally, we are in the process of formulating a comprehensive plan to extend cultural safety training to all staff and volunteers. This initiative aligns with the development of our Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-Racism (IDEA) Strategy, reflecting our commitment to fostering an inclusive and culturally aware environment.

We are also working with Indigenous Partners to support educational opportunities for staff and physicians .

NGH is also dedicated to providing "Trauma-Informed CARE" training. As healthcare providers, we understand the impact of past traumas and strive to create an environment where individuals feel heard and supported. Understanding that past traumas can influence an individual's connection with support services, we emphasize a holistic approach. Our commitment extends to changing policies and practices, ensuring that our system minimizes barriers and fosters an environment where individuals can seek help without fear of re-traumatization.

We will continue to engage with Indigenous partners to determine the most appropriate way to commemorate National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in the coming years.

For more information about our Indigenous Services, including local resources and emergency crisis numbers, please visit our dedicated page at https://www.ngh.on.ca/programs_services/indigenous-services/